Staff Wellbeing - It’s in our DNA

From Leader Summer Term 2019 issue

With an ever-growing focus on teacher recruitment and retention,  it’s important to ensure, now more than ever, that you are looking  after the wellbeing of your staff. Here MAT CEO Jeremy Rowe  shares top tips from his schools’ Staff Charter.

With a growing, and overdue, focus on teacher recruitment nationally, it seemed a good time to share with colleagues our commitment to putting staff welfare and wellbeing at the centre of our growing multi-academy trust (MAT).

In order to make this commitment explicit, and to ensure that these values and approaches would remain hardwired into our DNA, we took the time to devise a Staff Charter, outlining our pledges and promises. We believe that as school and college leaders we have a duty of care for the wellbeing of our colleagues. Our job is to make it possible for them to do theirs.

Key points that your Staff Charter could include:

We will have the highest behavioural expectations of all students with robust systems in place to ensure that teachers are fully supported to uphold these standards.

 ‘Support’ is the key word here – colleagues are always delighted to do their bit to uphold an effective, consistent and fair approach but what drives them out of the classroom is having to do it alone, or even being judged or criticised for their decisions.

We will remember the importance of staff wellbeing, ensuring external and internal support is available and that teachers are able to attend important family events, and personal appointments, wherever possible.

Absolutely. Why should the teacher parent be the only one missing every time? It’s simple really – we either value our colleagues, or we don’t. And if we don’t, they leave.

Regular secondment opportunities will be available, both within individual academies and across the trust, including leadership positions.

These are optional, and if a move to a different workplace isn’t right for a colleague, they don’t have to go.

Our recruitment process will be open and transparent. 

No jobs and roles handed out in secret – every new position is properly advertised and goes to the best candidate.

Paternity leave will be paid in full.

An organisation either believes these moments are important for families, or it doesn’t. We do.

Lesson observations will not be carried out as part of a review of the trust, school or college.

Teachers do not need the CEO turning up, clipboard in hand, just to make me feel important, and would a high-stakes judgement necessarily improve their teaching anyway?

No teacher will be formally observed more than three times in a school year. 

That should be enough to know how your team is doing. 

Teachers can leave the school site during planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time. 

The ability to juggle busy lives by working slightly flexibly is a big advantage.

After-school meetings will have a published finish time and will end on time.

Colleagues have the right to know when a meeting will end, just as much as when it starts. If a meeting is in danger of overrunning, by the way, don’t be tempted. Overrunning is usually either due to a meeting being badly chaired or having too much on the agenda, or both.

There is no expectation that emails will be opened or replied to in the evenings or at weekends.

You can send them and you can reply to them, but you don’t have to.

Teachers will not be expected to produce data on individual students more than is absolutely necessary.

This puts a huge demand on teachers and their workload and it’s not inherently likely to improve outcomes for pupils.

Performance management targets will be based on a range of different factors and not on external examination/test results where that is inappropriate.

There will not be a prescribed template for lesson planning, and individual lesson plans will not be expected to be presented as a matter of course. Teachers know their students best and they know how to teach them, so let them do what they’ve been employed to do… teach.

Marking expectations will be understanding of the varying demands and contexts within a school. 

Excessive marking expectations are making this brilliant job un-doable for more and more colleagues, and there is a lack of clear evidence of its overall impact, compared to time spent. 

Jeremy Rowe
CEO of Waveney Valley Academies trust in Suffolk

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